August 2008

Strategies to Increase Front Desk Productivity

By Roseanne Klementisz

Without question, the front desk represents the heartbeat of a salon or spa business.

It used to be the place to book appointments and check out clients. Today, it’s the central hub of activity—managing the salon’s productivity and efficiency. It’s a telemarketing department, a sales and customer service center and a complaint department. Most importantly, the front desk communicates the culture of the salon or spa to the outside world.

In today’s fast-paced business-focused salon or spa, the front desk controls the single most important resource in the business—its revenue-producing hours. From ever-important phone contact to directing clients to the most qualified team members, and then also handling countless special client requests and selling and managing the salon’s production capabilities and efficiencies, talented professionals at the front desk drive salon growth.

Top 10 Ways to Increase Front Desk Productivity

1. Whose line is it? Make different people responsible for different aspects of client visits. Separate duties, such as salon tours and working the register.

2. Everyone should know the game. While maintaining individual responsibilities, front-desk team members should be able and willing to assist each other.

3. Power book. Give your coordinator the power to tighten the salon’s schedule by prebooking services and selling additional services on confirmation calls.

4. Organize. Keep the desk neat and free of stray papers or other articles.

5. Promoting. Promote all services and products, especially your monthly specials, and talk up all employees’ talents.

6. Know your products. Even if you don’t make products, the front desk team needs to know enough about products to talk about them with clients.

7. Establish incentives. Reward your front desk team for a job well done. They are as important to the success of the salon as your top stylists.

8. Have scripted routines. Leave nothing to chance. Consistency in front desk procedures shows the professionalism of your salon.

9. Certify skills. All personnel with access to the salon’s computer system must be in-house skill certified to operate it.

10. Talk to clients. Don’t try to quote prices and procedures. Engage them in more interesting conversation—talk about their hair, skin, nails.

 

What’s critical for running an efficient front desk? A focus on the following:

Productivity: The number one job of the front desk is to sell all available hours. Time is a salon’s greatest resource, and the more time the salon sells, the greater its revenues. That’s why management must empower and encourage the front desk team to increase the number of hours spent servicing clients.

Stylists need to understand that the front desk holds their book in their hands. Supporting the front desk team, giving them information and communicating effectively opens up opportunities for everyone. For example, eliminating 15-minute gaps between appointments can dramatically affect the revenue of the salon on any day.

Customer satisfaction and retention rates: The front desk team makes the first and last impression that a client will have of a salon or spa. Its level of proficiency and professionalism can truly affect whether or not a client has a “wow” experience or decides never to return—especially when something goes wrong and is handled in an amazing way. Retention is tied directly to productivity. Would you rather wade through a stream of dissatisfied clients or service a solid base of loyal customers who recommend you to their friends? Regular clients are one of your most productive assets.

Referrals: Customer satisfaction and retention directly tie in to referrals. An amazing service experience provided by the front desk can be a primary driver for clients to recommend your salon or spa. The opposite is also true; if they have a wonderful service but a bad experience at the desk, they’ll still be more likely to leave or at least not be your head cheerleader.

We always say to our clients, “If you’ve enjoyed your service here, we’d love if you’d let people know about it.” Then we also run contests and programs to further encourage referrals. It’s up to the front desk to make our clients aware of them.

• Prebooking: There must be a continuing goal at the front desk to sell every hour available. That’s why it’s critical for the front desk to receive information about what each service provider is recommending and then get the appointment on the book before the client leaves. Prebooking is so important because it ensures productivity six weeks from now.

• Up-selling: To up-sell services and products effectively, the front desk team needs the same level of information, support and education you provide to the technical team. For example, it’s critical they know every detail about all the services on the menu and the time protocols for each service and service provider.

At my spa, we start with a huddle every morning for the entire team to discuss what the day looks like. Throughout the day, we provide a constant feed of information through our computer intranet system, so the front desk team can respond to what’s happening. That means it’s critical to have systems that inform them about product and rebooking recommendations for every client, to help them close the retail sale and effectively rebook each client.

Working the front desk is a tremendously complicated job that requires the team members to have smiles on their faces and a fabulous tone in their voices. Give them a supportive culture that recognizes their strategic impact on the company and the difficulty of their job. Provide them systems and protocols, supported by training that will ensure everyone is on the same page, and you have a winning formula for salon and spa success.

Roseanne Klementisz is a certified Strategies coach and owner of The Body Serene Day Spa in Skippack, Pennsylvania. Strategies provides solid solutions for salons’ and spas’ most critical business challenges, through strategies business academy seminars, customized salon and spa coaching services, webinars and other educational and coaching programs. For more information, visit www.strategies.com or call 800-417-4848.